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Lumen Summer 2015 Issue
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New scholarship rewards outstanding Indian graduates

Professor Ashok Khurana and Rosemary Khurana with Rohan Yargop and Quresh Vasanwala (photo by Ben Osborne)

Professor Ashok Khurana and Rosemary Khurana with
Rohan Yargop and Quresh Vasanwala (photo by Ben Osborne)

Winning a scholarship was a life-changing experience for Professor Ashok Khurana. As a young man in India he received funding to study overseas, sending him first to the United Kingdom for postgraduate studies before coming to Australia.

That was 42 years ago. Now, with a successful career as an engineer and academic in the petroleum industry, and reflecting on the benefits that he and his family have received from education, Ashok has decided that it is time to give back.

"I felt a great debt to the Indian education system and to the Australian nation for welcoming me as an immigrant and giving me every opportunity in life," said Ashok. "I came here with less than $300 and Australia has given me everything - without a sound education which started in India all those years ago, none of it would have been possible."

Hoping to provide similar opportunities to others, he has made a significant gift to the University of Adelaide to fund in perpetuity the Ashok Khurana scholarship for outstanding Indian students. The scholarship provides $25,000 for Indian students to undertake full-time postgraduate studies at the University, funding their airfares, living expenses and providing a substantial discount on their tuition fees. The first students to benefit from Ashok's generosity are Rohan Yargop and Quresh Vasanwala.

"When I received the scholarship, I had been in Adelaide for six months and things were really difficult - it was expensive for me to be at university and it affected my study," says Quresh, studying for a Master of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "Since receiving the scholarship my life has been stress-free - the burden of expenses is now less on my parents' shoulders and I feel financially independent.

"I look forward to the opportunity to do further study after my master's degree."

Rohan's passion for food and agriculture has led him to study for a Master of Global Food and Agricultural Business. "The scholarship has given me the chance to study what I'm passionate about," he said. "My aspiration is to open a school in India to teach about the food and food culture of India."

This year Rohan was chosen to represent the University at the 22nd Pacific Economic Cooperation Council general summit and next generation program in Beijing, China. "This experience gave me an opportunity to interact with intellectual minds from all over the world and helped me to expand my networks and make wonderful friends," said Rohan. Ashok and his wife Rosemary are pleased to be able to support students like Rohan and Quresh to realise their dreams.

"To be able to put a smile on these beautiful young faces is very rewarding," said Ashok. "We want to see this support enable their growth, their happiness, their satisfaction in life and hopefully they'll put something back when the time comes." Ashok also supports a scholarship for students at the Elder Conservatorium. Established in memory of his mother who was a keen singer, the Kamala Khurana music scholarship provides financial assistance for musicians to attend master classes and performances with leading exponents worldwide.

"As a child, watching my mother and women from all walks of life getting together for religious soirees showed me the enormous power of music as a cohesive force that brings people together. It seems to me to be a common language regardless of people's origins and cultural backgrounds," he said.

During his time as General Manager Development at Santos, Ashok was instrumental in setting up the Petroleum School at the University of Adelaide. He helped develop the original curriculum and was a member of the School's Board. He went on to become Professor of Petroleum Engineering from 2002 to 2006.

He was also Professor of Petroleum Engineering at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, starting the Petroleum Engineering School there and held professorial positions at the University of New South Wales and CSIRO. Aside from his academic career, Ashok has more than 30 years of industry experience with Santos Ltd, with Esso/ExxonMobil and as a consultant to numerous companies and governments worldwide. He now works part-time as an advisor to Petronas, the national oil company of Malaysia.

"The most satisfying part of my academic career, including my time at the University of Adelaide, was teaching undergraduate students," said Ashok. "I have always found interaction with young students very satisfying and intellectually stimulating. They don't seem to have any inhibitions about asking the seemingly naive questions which are often very incisive and the hardest to answer.

"It is time to give back and help pave the way for other Indian students who may not otherwise have an opportunity to advance their career without a scholarship."

Even small scholarships have a big impact on students lives. To find out more about supporting students through scholarships at the University of Adelaide visit or contact Natalie Gibbs on +8 8313 1716 or

Bequest to support the sciences

A diagnosis of a serious and ultimately fatal illness inspired George Southgate to consider the impact he could make, both today and for the future. It is thanks to George's own intellectual curiosity and his lifelong interest in physics and chemistry, that a new generation of thinkers can explore and seek new knowledge for the future benefit of all.

In an interview with the University before his death in 2010 George said: "The illness made me focus on the fact that I wasn't immortal, which made me think, what am I going to do with my estate? I've always admired the brains of the scientists, engineers and chemists that have built the knowledge that we have today."

The George Southgate Fellowship now provides fares and travel expenses for faculty members from the School of Chemistry and Physics to attend overseas meetings, conferences and conventions. It also provides travel expenses for selected physicists from overseas to visit South Australia for the purpose of teaching and gaining knowledge in any branch of physics.

For further information about bequests or to arrange a confidential discussion please contact Sue Fox on +61 8 8313 3234 or email

story by Genevieve Sanchez


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